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As a longtime member of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has sat for years at the intersection of Pentagon policy-making and the business of the nation’s wealthiest and most well connected military contractors.
Along the way, she’s accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from those very companies, some of which, federal records show, her family held a personal financial stake in through her husband’s many and wide-ranging corporate stock investments.
Senate financial disclosure reports covering calendar years 2012 to 2016, the most recent year on record, show Collins’s husband, Thomas Daffron, has current or past share holdings in more than a dozen prominent defense contractors, including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, United Technologies, Harris Corporation, General Electric, and L3 Communications.
Reports filed since 2013 show all corporate securities stock in military contractors held in Daffron’s name. Disclosures from the 2012 calendar year, filed under an older reporting system, do not make public the names of individual stockholders. In 2011, the year prior to marrying Daffron, Collins had no reportable investments in defense companies.
The Center For Responsive Politics, a widely cited non-profit that tracks campaign donations and lobbying expenses, estimates Collins has accepted over $621,000 in career campaign donations from political action committees and individuals associated with the defense industry. That figure includes contributions to her campaign account, and leadership PAC, Dirigo PAC.
The donations include contributions tied to some of the companies Collins’ husband has held, or currently holds, stock in. They include Honeywell, which Collins reported as a $1,001 to $15,000 stock asset that generated $201 to $1,000 in dividends in 2016; Boeing, also a $1,001 to $15,000 stock asset generating $201 to $1,000 in dividends in 2016; and Minnesota-based conglomerate 3M, an asset valued between $15,001 and $50,000 that brought in $201 to $1,000 in dividends in 2016.
Previous defense industry investments include Raytheon, recorded as a $1,001 to $15,000 asset that brought in $0 to $201 in unearned income in 2013; Lockheed Martin, a $1,001 to $15,000 asset that brought in $0 to $201 in interest in 2012; and Harris Corporation, a $1,001 to $15,000 asset that generated $0 to $201 in 2013.
When reached by email, Collins’ communications director, Annie Clark, did not provide a comment on this story.
Collins reports no financial stake in her largest campaign contributor, defense contractor General Dynamics, which owns Maine shipyard Bath Iron Works and has donated more than $163,000 to Collins’ campaign and leadership PAC over the course of her career.
The Center For Responsive Politics estimates combined donations from Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin total more than $93,000.
The Center’s estimates are based on Federal Election Commission data on employee contributions and company-linked PACs, and also include employee family members who made donations but had no reportable income, i.e. donors classified as “homemakers.”
Because contributors who give less than $200 are not required to list employer names under federal law, the Center considers its figures to be conservative estimates.
For years, Collins has been member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which plays a key role in shaping the direction of Pentagon spending. Because her initial nomination to the subcommittee predates investments going back to 2012, the senator was potentially in the position to influence policy that benefited companies Daffron held stock in.
Collins is a former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has significant influence over the direction of defense policy, and the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
In total, Collins reports her husband’s investments in defense contractors have generated between $2,814 and $15,809 in dividends, capital gains, and interest since 2012.
In 2016, assets in companies that offer defense-related services or products were valued between $47,005 and $180,000. In addition to Boeing, Honeywell, and 3M, Daffron disclosed stock in multinational conglomerate United Technologies, valued at $15,001 to $50,000, and technology company Microsoft, reported between $15,001 to $50,000.
According to a LinkedIn profile page, and other news reports, Daffron is the chief operating officer of the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying and consulting firm Jefferson Consulting Group.
He represents companies in the printing and publishing, and electronics manufacturing and equipment industries, according to the Center For Responsive Politics. Daffron is a graduate of Brown University, and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, according to an article in The New York Times on the couple’s Aug. 11, 2012, wedding.
In 2014, Collins reported heavy stock transaction activity by her husband, with more than 250 sales or purchases on record. The value of sales for the year was placed at $255,164 to $2.65-million, and included sales of stock in Raytheon, General Electric, Harris Corporation, and Boeing.
In current or past publicly available disclosure reports, Collins has listed investments by her husband in fossil fuel companies Exxon Mobil, and Chevron, oilfield servicer Halliburton, and companies in the telecommunications, pharmaceutical, and technology sectors.
Alex Nunes is an independent journalist based in Rhode Island. He has contributed reporting to NPR, Rhode Island Public Radio, The Providence Journal, and The Day of New London, Conn., among other news organizations. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a bachelor’s in sociology from Rhode Island College.
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